Like many Americans, Catherine first encountered yoga as a physical practice-- yoga poses helped her keep her body limber and strong. After more than two decades of practice, Catherine has found the benefits of yoga to extend far beyond the physical, and her practice now helps her stay centered, find balance and connect to a larger spiritual community (sangha.) Yogic philosophy and techniques have helped Catherine to cope with life challenges, including injuries and medical conditions, and cultivate compassion with herself and others.
Yoga therapy as a component of physical therapy
As a licensed physical therapist, Catherine is able to use yoga therapeutically as part of holistic assessment and treatment that addresses the physical and subtle bodies (mind, emotions and energy.) Yoga therapy provided by a healthcare professional can be considered part of the medical plan of care and as such, is subject to state and federal laws regulating healthcare. In the state of Illinois, for example, physical therapy treatment requires a referral from a physician, chiropractor, dentist, or midwife.
Yoga therapy as a wellness service
Yoga therapy can also stand alone as a means of enhancing wellness, preventing symptoms of injury or dis-ease, or acting as a complement to medical treatments. Yoga therapy certification requires extensive training beyond yoga teacher training requirements. As a certified yoga therapist, Catherine enjoys creating an individualized yoga practice to help her clients reach their goals. A referral is not needed for yoga therapy as a service provided outside a medical plan of care.
For more information on yoga therapy, contact Catherine or visit the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
Group Yoga Classes
When Catherine teaches group yoga classes, her background in therapeutic yoga shines through. Meditation and pranayama are offered as a means of physiological quieting. Injury prevention is interwoven with physical poses and alignment. She offers modifications for common aches and pains. She encourages her students to listen to their inner guide as they explore movement and challenge themselves in healthy ways that balance effort with ease.
I was in a lot of pain with mobility issues. Catherine Lewan, DPT, was very understanding and made me feel comfortable about discussing all the ways that the pain was interfering with my daily activities. Cat employed several modalities to address my pain as well as muscle weaknesses (and areas of tightness!) that I hadn’t noticed before but to which my body was reacting. Cat provided me with options to consider regarding my plan of care and included my goals in each step of the treatment. She listened well and came up with a plan tailored to my needs. I now am more knowledgeable about my body and if my pain returns, I have some tools to use to try to address it. I know too that she is available in case my pain persists, and I need a re-evaluation. Working with Cat has convinced me that physical therapists can address the whole patient, not just a joint or limb that is in pain. Finally, Cat was always positive and encouraging. I could not have achieved my great results without her!
Kim– student PTA and experienced personal trainer and exercise instructor
Catherine tailors her classes to the needs of participants of all ages and conditions. She uses props to enhance each movement, and modifications that offer me the opportunity to take care of my body using weekly Pilates and Yoga group classes. I also see her in the clinic for treatment of my arthritis, and I have found her expertise, respect for the human body and her personal centeredness to be an extraordinary resource.
Catherine is a natural teacher. When I take her yoga class it is as if she is talking to me personally (even when the room is full). She is so in-tune with how the body works – or isn’t working. Catherine tells us to be gentle to our bodies. She eases us into the class with gentle pranayama and then takes us through asanas that always magically warm us up to the climax of the class (modified for different levels always). But this is where her Physical Therapy expertise shines through: Catherine knows the body so well. Her knowledge of the body as well as the anatomy of the pose means that you will experience asana in a new way, every time.
I worked with Catherine when I broke my collar bone. She treated me for the muscles and movement around the break, but also helped me recover areas of strength that I had neglected because I was protecting the area around my collar bone. She helped me discover that I wasn’t using my back muscles properly to carry my baby. Her method incorporated pilates, yoga asana and strengthening exercises in addition to manual therapy. I was very worried about returning to yoga and never thought I would be able to do down-dog again. She helped me feel confident in my body again.
As a 60-year-old, I want to keep my body strong and moving freely for many years to come. The core work I’ve done as a student in Cat’s class has changed my body, made me stronger, increased my body awareness, and reduced my back pain. She brings a sparkly energy and creative approach to every class, and always seems to find a great balance between work hard and feel good. When I needed to do a round of physical therapy, it was great to be able to see Cat, a highly trained and caring physical therapist that already knew my body, and could keep an eye on me in class once my PT was over.